Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to survive chickenpox with a toddler

Just before the end of term, I changed Jacob's nappy in the morning before taking him to nursery, and noticed he looked a bit sore around his bottom. He often blisters when he has nappy rash, so I thought nothing of it, slapped on some Metanium and deposited him at nursery.

Less than 2 hours later, I was called to pick him up, as he was breaking out in The Pox.

A couple of days later, and my poor boy was covered in them. In his mouth. In his hair. In his ears. On his boy bits. And the poor love was so so grumpy and just didn't know what to do with himself. And I didn't know what to do with him. He wanted to go in the garden but by the time we got to the backdoor, he didn't want to go in the garden. He wanted to watch Peppa Pig, but then again he also didn't want to watch Peppa Pig. He wanted a cuddle, but equally, he didn't want me anywhere near him. But woe betide if I tried to leave the room to get dressed or put a load of washing on.

Mostly, I just felt so so sorry for him. He kept saying "Jacob sad" and grabbing his nappy area and shouting "owwwww!". Poor love.

I managed to persuade him into the garden, and we spent most of the following days covering every inch of the patio in chalk, and then scrubbing it off with a washing up scrubby brush and a bowl of bubbly water. He was in 7th heaven, it was great. Then he went on a tiger hunt and found a tiger hiding in the bushes, introduced himself as "Jacob big boy!" and had fun feeding the tiger stones.

But oh, the itching. He hadn't quite figured out how to scratch, so just kept frantically scrubbing at himself, grabbing his nappy and screaming and rubbingrubbingrubbing his head, and the combination of this and liberal applications of calamine in his hair meant he soon resembled some sort of nutty professor.

We found Calpol, Piriton and aqueous cream with calamine were the most effective. Apparently, calamine lotion gives immediate relief but as it dries, the itching becomes worse - the aqueous cream counteracts this (you can buy aqueous cream with calamine from pharmacies, I found it in the dry skin section and it cost less than a couple of pounds. We went through 2 tubs!).

On one night, the itching was so bad that Jacob didn't go to bed til 5am. He was quite happy, he just couldn't drop off as every time he lay down, he'd start trying to scratch again.

Not sleeping on his blow up bed in the living room.

We googled for help and found oaty baths are recommended, so each day from then on he sat in the bath for 1-2 hours while I gently wiped him with a leg from a pair of tights stuffed with oats.

This was easy enough to make - just cut a leg off, put it over a big cup or something to hold it open, fill with oats, then tie. I made a loop and hung it over the tap so the water ran over it while the bath filled, then kept squeezing it to let more of the oaty goodness out. It felt so silky and lovely, and whilst he didn't like it being near him, if I could get it behind him without him seeing what it was, I could gently wipe him all over with the oats-in-tights and he went into a kind of happy daze.

In the end, it took about 10 days before he suddenly felt loads better, his temperature came down and he was back to his usual energy-filled self.

The spots in his nappy area never scabbed over, but nursery said this often happens and were happy to take him back after a week off as all the other were scabby. Funnily enough, only 2 others at nursery came down with it, both babies who he doesn't socialise with. Then again, he's survived 3 previous CP bouts at nursery without catching it in the past.

I'm so glad it's over now, and hoping the scars will fade in time. Bless him.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011


You know that feeling, when you've been squinting in the sun, lying on the beach, too hot to breathe, swimming until your lungs give out, salt drying on your eyelashes, climbing up the cliff, walking miles back to the car, and trying to stay awake while you drive home? That. Except we haven't even been to the beach today.

Following the mother of all tantrums yesterday afternoon (I swear, they only get higher in intensity as the days pass...), we bundled into the car (in the rain and mist and coldness) and went to Pizza Hut, where J-cub delightfully constructed his own happy face pizza (unprompted) using carrots and cherry tomatoes and croutons.

And as he didn't really eat anything other than carrots and breadsticks and croutons, we thought it best not to have ice cream factories, so we went to Morrison's and loaded up on Ben and Jerry's. And they had a Peppa Pig ride on thing in the entrance. So far, J-cub has existed not knowing what these strange things in supermarkets are. But he needed cheering up, and so did we, so out popped our pound, and in popped our boy. He's been talking about it ever since.

We managed to thoroughly exhaust him enough that he went to bed pretty much as soon as we came home, and we settled in for an awesome-sauce evening of watching Parks and Recreation (soon to supplant The [American] Office as my favourite ever TV show). And somehow, despite it being Sunday, we were up and dressed and out before 9am this morning, on our way to a Safari Swim at our leisure centre. It was sunny but pretty fresh and chilly - hence our bundled-upness:

I'm not entirely sure why it constituted a safari swim - it was supposed to be for little people who were too small to go on the slides, with calmer waters and jungle animals. None of which seemed to be in evidence. Still, they charged us a fairly shocking £6 each to get in, so we thought we'd better make the most of it, and stayed in til we all turned blue. Which turned to be two hours after we first went in!

We started swimming with J-cub when he was 12 weeks old, we did Water Babies which was, on the whole, great ... but also beset with problem after problem. Swimming pools were too cold/deep/busy. Staff left. Classes were too small so we got bumped up into a toddler group while J-cub couldn't crawl, let alone walk (leaving us bobbing around, totally unable to join in the activities as he just didn't have the skills or understanding). He went through a big wobbly phase, which they say always happens, but having a child clinging onto you so tightly that you're left with deep fingernail marks, and who screams bloody murder when you even suggest that they should hold onto the side or do one of the million exercises they've been doing weekly for a year, just felt horrible and wrong and I left each class in tears. So we quit. We've been swimming precisely once since then ... more clinging, and more screaming.

But swimming should be fun, and we don't want to just give in when we know that he'll eventually get over it and start enjoying himself. So we stayed, and splashed, and cuddled, and gradually he calmed down. At the start of our two hours, he was screaming and refusing to approach the water's edge. At the end, he was riding on my back, holding on to the straps of my costume while I bobbed around the lazy river. And he went down a slide, which involved going through a curtain of water, and splashing into a shallow pool at the bottom. Yay!

We'll try and keep going I think, although maybe not at that time of the weekend with those prices.

Afterwards, we emerged to find the sun had put his hat on, and it was freakishly hot. We went to check out the marina (see the building in front of Jamie's face? Imagine that hadn't been built, and instead you could see a rather grimy ex-launderette in the basement of a fancy marina-flat-complex ... that's where we first lived together. Awwww.) - how similar are my boys?

And just to emphasise how perfect* the day has been ...

*By perfect, I mean too stinking hot to breathe. It's quite nice indoors though. We've also managed to weed and clean half the patio. It took 2 hours. That'll teach me to have a baby and ignore the gardening for nearly 3 years.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nanny, Buppy, Bee Boy Ded

J-cub wrote a song. It's awesome. Before you watch it, you should know that he calls his dummy 'Nanny', his bunny 'Buppy', and his bed 'Bee boy ded' (big boy bed). He likes to remind himself where his nanny and buppy are, ever since they've been confined to the bedroom. His constant mutterings of 'NannyBuppy bee boy ded' have joined forces with his new-found skill at playing guitar, and he wrote a song.

The full verse (which I didn't capture in this video - and I suck at editing videos together so this is all you get) goes:

Mummy, Daddy, bee boy ded,
Auntie RoRo, bee boy ded,
Jacob, bee boy ded,

It's brilliant. And he can now officially say "Oh well, I wrote my first song when I was two...". We're very proud.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bottomless toddler pit

This is a rare occasion for me - at the moment we frequently have whole days of No Eating Thank You Very Much Mummy, and J-cub's diet and willingness to try new things really leaves something to be desired - thank goodness for dairy and fruit upon which he would solely exist if possible.

Anyway - a late morning trip to the dentist coupled with a raging tantrum about not touching fire extinguishers meant he got put to bed without lunch (not as a punishment, just because he was shattered and the shuddering breaths definitely indicated bed was needed) and he didn't wake up til nearly 4. So we had a late lunch/snack combo which started an hour ago and has neatly segued into tea. And he's still going. So far, he's had...

2 large bananas.
A full cup of milk.
2 large rice cakes, one with peanut butter, one with red pepper houmous.
A huge bowl of plain Greek yoghurt.
A snack pack of apple flavoured mini-ricecakes (he snuck into the kitchen and stole these while I was looking for something to cook).
A Quorn burger.
A large carrot.
About a quarter of a tin of beef ravioli.

As soon as he's finished each thing, he's asked for more. "More 'nana please Mummy!". "More dice cake please Mummy!".

If I'd realised this was going to happen, I could have cooked a proper meal. As it was, I was reduced to scrabbling in the freezer for something microwaveable (the Quorn burger and the ravioli). At least it's a roughly balanced meal - there's lots of protein in there, lots of carbs, dairy, fruit and veg. He wouldn't normally have something like beef ravioli, I know it's full of salt and sugar and on a normal day, J-cub thinks that pasta is the Devil's work. This is one of our biggest bugbears - he doesn't eat bread (except for toast in the morning), potatoes (except chips/potato waffles), pasta or rice. Trying to get carbs into him is a nightmare. From time to time though, he'll go on a big carb-loading spree, which does really demonstrate that they eat what they need, and maybe he doesn't need it most of the time. And maybe I should just chill out about it all.

I had the other half tin of ravioli for my lunch (due to my mouth being all numb from the dentist) and so it was there, and he saw it, and asked for it. And ATE it. Maybe there is hope after all ... he's now hopping around the living room shouting "De-di-shush pasta!"

I took an amusing video which I'll add later when I've edited it...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Thank you, and good night.

Time for an update on sleeping in a big boy's bed I think - here's the story so far for those who haven't been paying close attention:

From January - our massive sleep dramas, and introducing the No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers (buy it now!).
From May - an update on how J-cub learnt to self-settle.
Also from May - the nightmareish decision we made to move bedrooms and from a cot to a bed all at the same time.

So he's been in his new bedroom for about a month now. And the novelty has not yet worn off, he loves his bedroom, he loves his bed, he loves talking about it and he loves being a big boy. He's always keen to go to bed, whether at nap-time or night-time, but the time it takes from starting to read until we can tip-toe out of the room without him rolling over and demanding "Mummy more book!" has increased and increased - just as it did in the last few months in his cot.

On Friday (yesterday, then), I took him up for his nap and as I was zipping him into his Grobag he headbutted me right under my chin, making me see stars and *almost* start crying. He's got such a hard head that I don't think he felt it at all, but I needed some ice. So I said "Mummy's not going to read you a story today, I'm going straight downstairs. Have a lovely sleep, see you in a few hours". He said "Night night Mummy", rolled over, and that was the last I heard from him.

At bedtime (at quarter to 7 - result!), I did the same. He went straight to sleep. I think that once again, we'd fallen into the trap of actually keeping him awake by our reading. Which is a shame really, because I do love reading to him, and I don't want to stop. But if it's a choice between sitting up there for 2 hours, or coming down and starting my evening, I'm going to plump for the latter. I think we might have to work sitting on the futon in his room and having a couple of stories into his bedtime routine - if we do that before he gets into bed and into his Grobag, then hopefully it'll be a lovely quiet time but won't impinge on his sleeping.

So we seem to have hit the magical sleep-wake ratio - he sleeps from 7pm-7am (mostly), and for a couple of hours during the day. I have started waking him from his daytime nap, as otherwise he's still raring to go at 7pm and then he goes to bed late and gets up late and it all starts going haywire. Oooh, look at me with a routine! Very odd.

In related news, I decided that half-term was the ideal time for him to go cold turkey on having nanny and buppy (his dummy and bunny) out and about during the day - he was having them All The Time and his talking through the dummy was driving me crazy. If I asked him to take it out to repeat what he said, he would just shake his head and refuse to talk. So on the first day of the holidays, I took them back upstairs and put them on his bed, and when he asked for them, I told him they were having a rest in the bed. It took him a little while to remember where they were, but soon he would ask "NannyBuppy?" and then follow it with a happy "Big boy bed!". And after more than a year of being able to pronouce D's, and calling me "Mummy" (so I knew he was capable of it), he started saying 'dummy' instead of 'nanny' (I don't know why he started with the nanny, although he also used to call me nanny when he started talking - it's also a mystery why he says buppy when he can clearly end words with a 'ny' sound). They are still collectively called "NannyBuppy" but if he finds a dummy, he calls it a dummy. He's really funny now - he knows where they are and that he can't have them if he's awake, but he still likes to ask, in one of his 'comic' voices with pursed lips so it sounds like he's speaking through a trumpet: "Dummy? No? NannyBuppy? Yes? No Jacob. NannyBuppy big boy bed. Sleep!".

So yes, to conclude. Toddler sleep problems, waking up for the day in the early hours, dropping naps, being grumpy, lots of tantrums, difficulty transitioning from cot/crib to bed - have a read of the No-Cry Sleep Solution. You won't be disappointed. It starts with a section of logs for you to fill in, and I'm usually the kind of person who ignores that kind of suggestion. I did it though, and it really drove home what was wrong and helped identify what we needed to do to fix it. I would strongly recommend you do the same, especially if you've got a memory that's anything like mine (i.e. full of Massive Holes).